Child Abuse, Emotions, Self Injury, Therapy

Thinking about SI

My frustration level is rising higher and higher and higher. I’m doing all I can to hold myself together. But right now, SI seems like a really great idea.

It’s been over six years since I last cut. And although I’d like to keep it that way, I’m quickly approaching the limits. I made a promise to myself and I really want to keep it. But I just don’t know how much longer I can deal with things before I’ll explode.

So, I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks back about the whole SI thing. I realize it’s a hard thing to understand if it’s something you don’t do. Hell, I used to do it and deal with the urges and I don’t know that I understand. He (in his own way) challenged me to think about the reasons why I want to hurt myself. So after sitting on this for a while, I’ve decided to post it.


1. Part of it was because I felt it. I was so numb at times. I had a tendency to dissociate and lose track of where I was and when it was and to some extent who I was. The pain brought me back to reality.

2. Part of it was because I was punishing myself. I thought that (and to a large extent still do think that) what was done to me was my fault. I blame myself. I see the opportunities I had to tell someone about it and I failed to do so. I could have at least tried to stop it. There’s no guarantee that it would have worked. But I didn’t do anything. And I felt like I needed to be punished for that.

3. Part of it was the intense hatred I felt for myself. I felt like I deserved to be hurt. And instead of letting someone else hurt me, I did it. At least I could control it.

4. Part of it was an attempt to take the pain inside of me and bring it outside. If I could see the blood, at least that was real. It was physical. It was tangible. The pain I felt inside often times was nondescript. I couldn’t describe it with words or pictures or sounds. But I could do that with the cuts.

5. Part of it was it gave me something to focus on. I would get so caught up in the memories that the act of cutting brought me back outside of my head. I guess this is related to number 1.

6. Part of it was control. I didn’t feel like I could control the memories and emotions. But I could control the cutting. I got to choose when I did it. I got to choose when I stopped. I guess this is related to number 3.


So, you see, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But then again, whoever said that taking a razor blade and slicing into flesh was a rational thing to do. And I’m not sure that I feel all that much better for posting this.

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12 thoughts on “Thinking about SI”

  1. Oh, wow. Yeah, those are very much the reasons I SI; the only one I have in addition is that a lot of times, it feels so much safer to express the overwhelming rage I feel towards others by hurting myself. (How that makes sense, I don’t know. Well, okay, hurting myself is more ok with me than hurting someone else, but how hurting myself will “get back” at others is a leap of logic I simply don’t grasp. But one of my teen parts was talking to a trusted friend, and this is apparently common.)

    What I have observed being helpful is for the parts of me that SI to find ways of getting their anger safely directed outward. Ripping up newspapers (or anything else, for that matter); throwing balled up socks at the wall; kicking things, punching things (with a rule for safety about which things can be kicked or punched). Doesn’t always kick in, but it helps when they do it.

    And I’ve got to say, the logic you captured is so much how I’ve seen SI operate in pretty much all the people I know who do it, so it MUST make emotional sense. Just not rational sense.

    –JA

  2. You’re very strong not to have cut in six years. I *mostly* stopped six years ago; I’ve only cut three times in the past six years. It’s been not quite fifteen months since I last cut. Once I made a list of reasons why I cut. I think there were eleven different reasons on it. It drives me crazy that most people who don’t cut think that there’s only one reason why people cut: to get attention. That wasn’t one of the reasons on my list.

  3. I think posting this was a healthy thing to do. Isolating the “whys” is an important way to support yourself in not making the choice again. Good on you for not giving up on “you”.

  4. @TT…

    Thanks for the feedback. Deep down, I know it was a healthy thing to write and to post. I’m feeling slightly less crappy today. The migraine was a big part of it along with the exhaustion. There’s stuff going on with my family right now that I’m having a hard time sorting out. Maybe it’s time to try one of those pie charts.

    @ JA…

    I understand what you’re getting at with talking about it being ok to hurt yourself when angry instead of hurting others. My biggest problem is identifying that I am feeling angry. All my emotions get lumped together in one big unidentifiable blob. The more I think about things that are going on right now, the more I think another pie chart is a good idea.

    Thanks for the feedback from both of you.

  5. I think it makes sense. Those reasons all help explain the SI urge. I hope you will keep working on treating yourself as if you were worthy of as much protection and good care as you would treat others — because you are. And I hope you’ll find other, safer physical expressions — and maybe be able to view the objects you use as helps — things that can handle your anger, things that don’t need protection and good care, things that serve you by receiving / containing your feelings.

  6. Thanks Marcy.

    I’m working on treating myself with a bit more kindness. In fact, I’m working on a new entry right now. I found the list I made while in the hospital a few years back of things I can do instead of SI. I’m just going to put them up as I wrote them, although not all of them are applicable to me anymore. But hopefully it’ll give others some ideas.

  7. Polly…

    Thank you. Strong isn’t usually a word I use to describe myself.

    I hate that people think I did it for attention. That was the last thing on my mind. Hell, it didn’t even cross my mind. I did all I could to hide the cuts from my coworkers and friends. I did all I could to hide it from my therapist for the longest time.

    It’s just one more thing that people really won’t understand unless they’ve been there.

  8. after 6 years we are this has you confused. we are guessing there was a trigger that brought the SI back to the forefront and we hope you can track it down and perhaps get it resolved. wishing you the best.

    hugs

    keepers

  9. *sigh*

    My family really is my biggest trigger. I know what triggered it. I’m just really not up to writing about it right now.

    In all honesty, I can’t get out of this place soon enough.

  10. Wow Kathryn , you did a really great job of laying out so many of the reasons behind SI. I could really relate to all of those motivations. Add in what JA said: “it feels so much safer to express the overwhelming rage I feel towards others by hurting myself”,
    and that is a very complete run down of the reasons I’ve also had for engaging in SI.

    Polly said, “It drives me crazy that most people who don’t cut think that there’s only one reason why people cut: to get attention.”
    Oh yes, I hear you on that one. That has always made me very angry. Most of us who have done this tend to try to hide it from others.There’s usually a lot of shame involved,so I always wonder why it is that people tend to want to view self-injury as a means of getting attention.Of course it gets attention when it is discovered or revealed, but that’s one of the most difficult things about it- the shock, anger, disapproval from others. Who wants that? I’m guessing that the judgmental attitude has something to do with how frightened and confused non-cutters feel when faced with something that they can’t begin to comprehend.

  11. Hey katm, I haven’t been around much as I am currently in the hospital now. We have a computer but I’m just gone home for a bit on a “weekend pass” and brought in my Mac so I can do a bit more browsing.

    Anyway, I have posted/written about SI/cutting as well and I think it’s great that you did so too. For one, I think it’s healthy for us as cutters to “get it out” and also to improve awareness as a lot of people do not understand.

    But I just wanted to let you know that as someone else who cuts, I do understand–even if yes, it doesn’t sound, as you put it “rational.”

    And as Polly said, six years is really great. Keep it up! My “record” was about 2.5 years and then I started doing it again early in 2007. I am not particularly pleased about it but it’s done and over with (for) now.

    I know the struggle is hard though…

  12. Glad to hear from you PA. Good you were able to bring in your Mac to get online.

    There are so many people who don’t understand SI. I understand it’s a hard behavior to understand, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like people want to try. We just get written off as crazy or attention seeking.

    Keep us up to date on how you’re doing.

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